Time Warner-CBS blackout enters third day, fans switch to broadcast Aug 4th 2013, 20:15
By Ashley Lau
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Millions of Time Warner Cable subscribers remained without CBS Corp programming for a third day on Sunday, including golf fans who had hoped to see Tiger Woods play in the final round of the Bridgestone Invitational.
The blackout that began Friday when Time Warner Cable dropped the No. 1-rated U.S. broadcast network has left an estimated 3.5 million customers in the affected markets, including New York, Los Angeles and Dallas, without access to Sunday morning talk shows and sports events.
“I had to hook up an antenna to get the local off air,” said Los Angeles resident Lou Furman, one of the many sports fans impacted by the blackout.
“I did it strictly because I wanted to see the golf tournament,” Furman said. “I’ve got it all hooked up but it’s inconvenient.”
Representatives for both CBS and Time Warner Cable said talks are ongoing, but did not provide any specifics as to when the blackout would end and an agreement would be reached.
The disruption, which came about after Time Warner Cable and CBS failed to reach a fee agreement following weeks of contentious talks, has drawn the attention of some local politicians.
New York City mayoral candidates City Comptroller John Liu and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, have taken both Time Warner Cable and CBS to task over what has become an increasingly vitriolic and public fight between the two sides.
Liu said in a statement that both sides had shown “near total disrespect” for cable subscribers and urged both sides to not use New Yorkers as “pawns” in their negotiations.
In the United States, localities regulate the rates cable television providers can charge consumers for basic cable.
Satellite provider DirecTV on Saturday sided with Time Warner Cable in a rare show of solidarity between rivals, commending the cable provider’s decision to drop CBS programming. DirecTV said in a statement that it applauded Time Warner Cable for “fighting back against exorbitant programming cost increases,” noting that the firm itself has “certainly had its share of these battles.
The removal of CBS programming from Time Warner Cable for the nation’s two largest markets stemmed from a disagreement over how much the cable operator will pay to carry CBS.
CBS fought back on Friday by suspending videos of full episodes on CBS.com for customers with Internet access provided by Time Warner Cable in affected markets. The broadcast network is home to popular shows such as “The Big Bang Theory” and “NCIS.”
CBS, in newspaper advertisements, urged Time Warner Cable subscribers to call the cable provider and ask for their CBS programming back: “They’ve done it, and it’s unfair for you to pay Time Warner Cable for CBS and not get your CBS programs,” the advertisement reads.
(Reporting by Ashley Lau in New York and Sue Zeidler in Los Angeles; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz)